Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates

By Harry V. Jaffa | Go to book overview

Chapter XVIII
The "Natural Limits" of Slavery Expansion

WE have already cited the extraordinary statement by Professor Randall that Douglas's program "would inevitably have made Kansas free..." We have argued that, in so far as Randall relies for his judgment on the political effects of the doctrine of "popular sovereignty," taken by itself, he is utterly mistaken. For Douglas would have been powerless to resist Buchanan in 1857-58 without the Republicans in Congress, and there would have been no Republicans there if Douglas's policy had been accepted in 1854; and there is no to reason to believe that without the continued opposition to Douglas by Lincoln in 1858 "popular sovereignty" would have resulted in freedom in Kansas thereafter. But Randall's thesis, and the whole revisionist case, hinges upon still another hypothesis. It is that causes other than purely political ones would in any case have kept slavery out of Kansas and out of any other parts of the Union where it was not already established. "By 1858 it was evident that slavery in Kansas had no chance," Randall writes. "After that, as Professor W. O. Lynch has shown, 'there was no remaining Federal territory where the conditions were so favorable to slavery.' The fight against the Lecompton proslavery constitution was won not by reason of any debate between Lincoln and Douglas, but by the logical workings of natural causes and by a specific contest in which, with 'the aid of Republicans, he [ Douglas ] won the Lecompton fight.'"1

Anyone reading Randall's text would, we think, suppose that the article of Professor Lynch from which Randall has quoted,

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